Originally published on Washington Post

As the virus that causes covid-19 spreads, health experts have instructed businesses, schools and parents to plan. Plan to stockpile necessary prescriptions. Plan to avoid large gatherings, and plan for extended absences from work or school. None of those plans include me.

As the single mother of a young child, my small family is rarely factored into scenarios, emergency or otherwise, where the dominant family unit is assumed to be two parents at home.

I’ve been a single mother since my ex-husband left when my now-9-year-old was a baby. Because his father lives more than 500 miles away, I have grown used to making all my child’s medical appointments, attending recitals and parent-teacher conferences, arranging all play dates, and planning all birthdays alone. But some things you cannot get used to or prepare for solo, like handling a pandemic.